New Orleans is known for many things, not the least of which is her architecture. With an abundance of homes from the 19th century, many of which historic, and the secret gardens to complement them, it's no wonder why one of the favorite pastimes of visitors is to go on a tour of homes. What makes New Orleans home and garden tours so special is that most of the historic housing stock is privately owned and lived in by New Orleans families. Every year, different homes are opened for a rare chance to see inside.
The Preservation Resource Center Holiday Tour of Homes
Every year the private homeowners of several of the mansions in the Garden District of New Orleans open their homes for a good cause. The Preservation Resource Center, a group dedicated to preserving the unique architectural heritage of New Orleans, sponsors the Holiday Tour of Homes. The tour is self-guided and the homes are beautifully decorated for the holidays. The tour is in early December on a Saturday and Sunday and also includes a cafe and holiday boutique with many vendors. Taking the tour and buying gifts at the holiday boutique makes for a fun day in New Orleans.
Faubourg Marigny Tour of Homes
Faubourg Marigny, the second oldest faubourg (neighborhood) in New Orleans, sponsors two tours annually, one in spring and one in fall. These tours all start in Washington Square Park on the corner of Royal Street and Esplanade Avenue. They have guided tours of the area, which is the most Creole faubourg in New Orleans. It's a great chance to learn a little history as you walk. There are entertainment and a kids area set up in Washington Square Park to enjoy while you wait for the next tour. The tour in spring takes you inside some of the Creole homes, while the tour in fall is longer, but usually, doesn't go into the homes. Tickets usually run about $20.
The Secret Garden Tour of French Quarter Homes
This tour, on a weekend in mid-October, lets you into some of the hidden gardens of the French Quarter homes. It's a chance to see some of the secret sanctuaries of the families who live in the French Quarter. Many visitors to New Orleans are surprised to learn that the French Quarter is a living, breathing neighborhood. The gardens, in the tradition of Creole architecture, are hidden from the street. Once a year some of these doors are open to the public for this self-guided tour.
Secret Gardens of Uptown Tour
This tour is also a garden tour that happens in March. Spring comes early to New Orleans and by March our gardens are alive and fragrant with azaleas, camellias, sweet olive trees, jasmine, and more. Every year there are several gardens of Uptown New Orleans homes open for viewing. You can purchase a box lunch to take with you. There is also a garden boutique, and some high-end artworks to purchase. Tickets are usually about $60 for the guided tour and $25 for the self-guided tour.
Algiers Point Tour of Homes
Algiers is a part of New Orleans that lies on the West Bank of the Mississippi River. It's a neighborhood of tree-shaded streets and 19th-century homes. Every October, the Algiers Point Neighborhood Association offers a tour of homes. You can get there by taking the Canal Street Ferry (be sure to get the one to Algiers. There is another ferry from Canal Street that goes to Gretna.) It's free and about a 6-minute ride across the river. The tour is within walking distance of the ferry landing.